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U.S. Should Press Myanmar to Make Elections More Democratic, Allow Suu Kyi as Candidate
In advance of President Obama’s visit to Myanmar Nov. 12-13 and his talks with President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi about national elections scheduled for 2015, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“President Obama should urge the leaders of Myanmar to reform the constitution drafted by the military to allow Aung San Suu Kyi, by far the most important opposition leader, to be a candidate for president,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “Having an election that is free, fair and credible means undoing requirements that actually undermine the legitimacy of elections and thus of the country – requirements clearly designed to prevent Suu Kyi from challenging those favored by the military.”
Myanmar’s constitution bars candidates who have have a foreign spouse or foreign children. Suu Kyi, whom the country’s previous military dictatorship kept under house arrest for 15 years, was married to a British citizen and has two sons who are British. Though a civilian government came to office in 2011, the military maintains significant influence over parliament and is strongly aligned with some political parties.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.